With a vision that all children be prepared for success in school, the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region (ELC) is making moves with their early childhood literacy program called My First Books. The program was originally created to ensure that any and every child who entered their offices would leave with a children’s book from one of their “Word Gardens”. Soon, it became very clear that not all children would ever cross paths with their programs or services and ELC needed to continue their efforts outside their doors and into the communities they serve.
This year, ELC was honored to have been a partner with Coaching for Literacy and the Florida State University’s Men’s Basketball Team. The partnership allowed for an opportunity to expand awareness and access to early childhood reading in the Tallahassee community during the annual Word of South, a free, music and literature festival.
Because of the $1,466.31 that was raised, ELC was able to sponsor providing more families with copies of children’s books that were written and illustrated by authors and artists who were being showcased at the festival. Families would enjoy presentations of children’s books and works throughout the park. After, they would be directed to the Early Learning Coalition’s tents, where they would be greeted with a new book, a pillowcase printed with the words, “Read to Me My First Books” and the opportunity to meet and have their books signed by the authors and illustrators themselves.
Initially, parents wondered about the books with the pillowcases, but they soon realized a pillowcase is the last thing a child sees before bed. What an easy way to remind the parent and the child that bed time is a great time to read their new book or any book. The ELC believes all children deserve to have access to their own little library of books, but they also believe that families, as a whole, need to understand the importance of reading and reading often, while keeping it engaging and fun!
Over 500 families came by the Early Learning Coalition tent the day of the festival. A number that could not have successfully been reached without this amazing partnership. A huge thank you goes out to Coaching for Literacy for its mission and vision and to FSU Men’s Basketball for trusting the process. The ELC is honored to have been chosen to further spread literacy love in the Big Bend Region.